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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Primary Postcard: Cabrera Votes Amid Signs of a Low Turnout

This is the first in a series of posts today about the primary election happening today in the Bronx and throughout the city. As we mentioned last night, there are four City Council contests worth watching: the 11th, 12th, 14th and 16th.

At about 9:20 a.m., I walked into PS 86, which is right across the street from the Kingsbridge Armory. Fernando Cabrera, one of two challengers trying to unseat incumbent Maria Baez in the 14th District, emerged from one of the voting booths. After a quick photo op (below; I apologize for the quality), his wife also voted. Because Baez voted earlier at PS 33, down the road on Jerome Avenue, I believe that puts Cabrera ahead, 2-1. We have an upset brewing!

In all seriousness, though, Cabrera and his wife were the only ones voting. I saw one other voter leave right before I arrived. Looks like another year of low turnout on primary day.

It's hard to say who a low turnout favors. Traditionally, a low turnout helps the candidate backed by the party and the biggest unions, which would tilt the scales toward Cabrera. But usually it helps the incumbent just based on name recognition. Say what you will about Baez, but people know who she is. That alone will get her votes. There's a third candidate, Yudelka Tapia, who is wild card in this race. It's unclear how she will impact the race. [More on her coming up later.]

Regardless, Cabrera said he slept soundly last night after spending the evening knocking on doors, putting in the work and trying to win supporters. "I've done everything I could do," he said.

His communications director, Fernando Aquino, after snapping some pictures of the Democratic Party's hand-picked candidate, said he felt the same way. "I think we've really gotten our message out there and people are responding to it," Aquino said.

Still, it's not going to be easy. As we mentioned last night, incumbent have won 97% of Council races over the past two decades and Baez has her people out in force today. Aquino said he thought Baez had been saving all her campaign funds for today's get-out-the-vote festivities.

It's on. Stay tuned...


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